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1906, Thanksgiving Day -- Mrs. Ellen Burge, widow of a prominent Springfield lawyer, officially donated her frame duplex on Jefferson Avenue for use as a Methodist hospital in Springfield. The hospital was named Burge Deaconess Hospital in her honor.

1908 -- A three-story brick building was constructed adjacent to the original house. This building had one operating room, and male and female wards totaling 30 beds.

1910 -- One nurse was the first graduating class of Burge School of Nursing.

1924 -- The Women’s Home Missionary Society, who then owned the property, deeded Burge Hospital in trust to a group of Springfield citizens.

1932 -- A 40-bed unit was constructed in addition to the 30 beds already there. This new wing of the hospital was named the John Howard Nixon Wing in honor of Dr. Nixon, in whose memory $105,000 was donated for the construction.

That was the end of Burge Hospital’s growth for nearly 20 years. The Depression curtailed plans for expansion. World War II channeled badly needed resources into more urgent areas. By the late ’40s, Burge Hospital was dying, crippled by impractical business management and the acute neglect that afflicted many of the nation’s hospitals in that immediate post-war era.

But Burge didn’t die. A group of physicians approached Lester E. Cox, prominent local businessman, and asked him to become president of the Board of Directors.

Cox began a series of capital campaigns which raised community money and federal matching funds for hospital expansion.

1949-1966 -- Expansion campaigns continued and wing after wing was added to the hospital until Burge accommodated 500 patient beds.

Early ’50s -- Burge Hospital pioneered the first polio unit in the Ozarks. The development of clinics to benefit the community’s children was an outgrowth of the efforts to combat polio.

1968 -- Construction began on yet another addition to Burge Hospital when Lester E. Cox died. The hospital’s Board of Directors voted to change the name of the hospital to Lester E. Cox Medical Center in his honor. Lester L. (Bud) Cox succeeded his father as chairman of the board.

1970s -- A 10-story physicians’ office building, Cox Medical Tower, was built across the street from the hospital.

1971 -- Cox Medical Center became one of the first hospitals in the nation with a Mobile Coronary Care Unit. This specially equipped ambulance was dispatched to provide immediate care to people in coronary distress.

Late ’70s -- Cox Medical Center played a major role in an event that was destined to affect Springfield well into the next century. Cox Medical Center became the pioneer on what is now known as Springfield’s Medical Mile. Cox purchased land north of Highway M to be used for a nursing home.

1981 -- Following the completion of the nursing home, Primrose Place Health Care Center, an announcement was made regarding a new Cox Medical Center to be built on the Medical Mile.

1984 -- Ground-breaking ceremony was held for a proposed 50-60 physician medical office, adjacent to the hospital. This became the Medical Arts Center and was attached to the hospital via a ground level hallway.

1985 -- The shift in city population and the growth of health care facilities led to the building of a 10-story hospital dedicated to the service of humanity.

Cox South is now a 562-bed full-service hospital serving all of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas. Cox North is a 274-bed facility with a commitment to caring for this community and the surrounding areas.

1986 -- Cox televised the first CMN Telethon in the Ozarks from Cox South.

1987 -- The Women’s Center, Senior Advantage and the Family Practice Residency all got their start at Cox.

1989 -- Cox South again expanded its boundaries with a 135,000-square-foot office building at Primrose and National Avenue. Cox Medical Plaza I opened its doors in early 1990 with space for 80 physicians, 30 hotel guest rooms and 11,000 square feet of space for outpatient rehabilitation. Before construction was complete, Springfield’s longest above-ground connector, the Cox skywalk, was built across National.

Late ’80s -- Cox Medical Centers worked with St. John’s to bring magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to the Ozarks. The facility on Woodland Drive off of Fremont Avenue is still a joint venture between the two hospitals.

1989 -- COX AIR CARE lifted off as the first air ambulance for Cox Medical Centers.

1990 -- Claudine B. Cox Child Care Center was built on the Cox South campus. It can accommodate 48 infants and 132 preschoolers.

Early ’90s -- Texas County Memorial Hospital, a 66-bed health care facility, signed a management contract with Cox.

1993 -- Lester E. Cox Medical Centers became Cox Health Systems.

June 1993 -- Cox Health Systems, Oxford HealthCare and Home Parenteral Services merged home health services, creating the largest home health care company in southwest Missouri.

October 1993 -- Cox Health Systems and St. Vincent Hospital in Monett announced the letter of intent for Cox to purchase St. Vincent Hospital, a 78-bed not-for-profit community hospital.

December 1993 -- Lester L. (Bud) Cox passed away and his son Lester B. (Barry) Cox was named chairman of the board of Cox Health Systems.

August 1994 -- Cox Health Systems and Burrell Inc. combined their behavioral health services to provide inpatient and emergency psychiatric services, as well as residential, outpatient, crisis and prevention programs.

1994 --Burge School of Nursing changed its name to Lester L. Cox College of Nursing and Health Sciences in honor of Lester L. Cox and his dedication to the nursing school and the hospitals.

1994 -- Primrose Healthcare Services Inc., a local physician-hospital organization, was formed by Cox, hospital physicians and independent physicians.

1995 -- Cox Health Systems and St. Louis-based BJC Health System entered into an agreement that allows Cox to access BJC-affiliated managed care contracts and cost-effective group purchasing alliances.

1995 -- Cox Medical Plaza II and a three-level parking garage opened to provide space for more physician offices.

1995 -- Cox Health Systems announced the creation of Cox Health Systems Insurance Company to serve the health insurance needs of businesses in the community.

1996 -- Cox Health Systems and Ferrell-Duncan Clinic solidified the relationship between organizations. Ferrell-Duncan non-physician staff became employees of Cox Health Systems.

1996 -- Cox and Freeman Hospital in Joplin partnered to offer Cox-Freeman HealthPlans (HMO products) to communities in the Ozarks.

1996 --In August, The C.A.R.E. (Children Are Really Excellent Mobile, a mobile health clinic for children, was started as a partnership between Cox, Children’s Miracle Network and the Springfield/Greene Co. Health Department.

1997 --In June, Cox Health Systems officially launched its website Cox Housecall at

1997 --Cox Health Systems, Primrose Healthcare Services and HealthNet, a Kansas City-based managed health care provider, joined together to provide Springfield and the surrounding areas with greater options in health care coverage.

1997 --Burrell Behavioral Health was among six organizations nationally to receive the second annual Metropolitan Life Foundation Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing. The national competitive award placed Burrell in the top two for supportive housing programs.

1997 --In September, Cox Health Systems’ cancer program was named the John K. and Ruth L. Hulston Cancer Center in honor of the man whose leadership on the board of directors has been an integral part of the health systems’ success.

1997 --In October, a dedication ceremony and unveiling of bronze sculptures in the Cox South atrium honored Mrs. Claudine B. Cox, PhD, widow of Lester L. Cox and the mother of Lester B. Cox, the current chairman of the board.

1997 --The Family Practice Residency Program of Cox Health Systems received a full five-year accreditation after undergoing significant curriculum change. The program also became affiliated with the University of Missouri-Columbia to offer residents a vast number of resources and a cooperative learning experience.

1998 --Cox Health Systems named a Top 100 Hospital in the United States for the second consecutive year by HCIA and William M. Mercer Consulting in their Benchmarks for Success study for 1997.

1998 --In July, Cox Health Systems acquired the Columbia/HCA facilities in Springfield. Columbia South was renamed Cox Walnut Lawn and the medical office building was renamed Medical South.

1999 --Cox Health Systems named to the list of America’s Top 100 Integrated Systems by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, and one of the "Fastest Fifty" of America’s fastest growing health care providers in Modern Healthcare magazine.

2000 --Cox launches its e-health care web site at


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